Do Equestrians Have Insight Into Their Equine-Related Knowledge (Or Lack Of Knowledge)?

  • David Marlin (Speaker)
  • Lynn Pal (Speaker)
  • Hayley Randle (Speaker)
  • Williams, J. (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation at Conference


    It is widely accepted having insight into one’s ability and performance is an essential part of being a professional. Self-evaluation, self-efficacy and confidence are key factors in any successful career. The Dunning-Kruger (DK) effect is a well-known effect regarding performance and knowledge. There is minimal research evidence investigating the DK effect in athletes and sports. Equestrianism is a popular lifestyle and growing sport across the world. The aim of the current study was to establish whether equestrians have insight into their own equine knowledge or whether they over/underestimate their knowledge demonstrating a DK effect? The present study included non-equine (n=123) and equine (n=128) participants with different educational achievements (none, low, medium, high qualifications). Participation was voluntary via an online study. Ethical approval was provided by University Centre Hartpury ethics board. Non-equine group were asked to answer 40 general knowledge questions. Equine group were asked to complete 40 specific equine related questions. All participants were subsequently asked to estimate whether they felt they had answered the questions correctly. Analysis comparing actual mean score with self-estimated mean score demonstrated that: 1) non-equine participants irrespective of educational background were accurate on their abilities to predict their general knowledge (Paired t-tests: P>0.05); 2) actual mean score compared with self-estimated mean score for the equine participants demonstrated an over estimation of their equine knowledge regardless of qualification level (Paired t-test: cohort: P=0.0001, t = 4.0, df = 127, 15±5% over-estimation; by qualification level high: P=0.01, t = 2.6, df =26, 15±6% over-estimation, medium: P=0.006, t =3.0 , df = 26, 19±6%, low: P=0.02, t =2.5, df = 42, 12±6%). This preliminary study found all equestrians had an inflated confidence in their equine related knowledge indicating that equine related individuals have only moderate insight into their abilities. This study is the first to provide evidence of a form of the DK effect within the equine population. Future research must address the role of contextual factors i.e., whether the effect is limited to equine related material only. Furthermore, research is required to investigate over estimation of physical skills for example riding or horse care management and performance. For the equine industry the findings from this preliminary study are very alarming and raise welfare, mental health and safety concerns. Our study supports the need for further research investigating DK effect in the general field of sport psychology for example the effect on ‘coachability’ of riders. Lay person message: No doubt you have experienced a situation where someone’s performance is below average however they are confident their performance is excellent. This is the Dunning-Kruger effect in action. This is the first study to demonstrate horse riders over estimate their knowledge indicating an over-confidence. Horse riders think they know more than they actually know. This over confidence can have serious consequences on the welfare of horses, could affect the mental health of riders, and raises important safety issues to the rider and horse.
    PeriodSept 2018
    Event titleInternational Society for Equitation Science 2018
    Event typeConference
    LocationRome, ItalyShow on map